I used to read Newsweek magazine; I loved the illustrations on the cover, the journalism present within, and the witty, insightful commentary from its many writers. That is, until I laid eyes on their most recent cover:
I can’t say as though I’ll be picking up a copy of Newsweek again any time soon.
But let me get right to the point: I am tired of partisan politics and name-calling getting in the way of progress and doing what is right for my fellow countrymen. And I am especially sick of the media perpetuating that (see above)–not simply by repeating what they are saying but by proliferating the name-calling and categorizing themselves. In short, don’t just blame the government for the shoddy economy or sorry state of affairs; thank your favorite media establishment.
Socialism…what a word. Princeton defines it as a political theory advocating state ownership of industry or an economic system based on state ownership of capital. According to Robert Fanney:
Socialism, to [Republicans], is helping the poor, ensuring everyone has the opportunity to be educated, providing health-care to those who need it most — the sick. To them, socialism is building roads, providing funds for needed infrastructure, advancing science. To them, socialism is maintaining an effective system of government because, in some twisted part of their misshapen logic, government is a worthless endeavor and doesn’t have a right to exist.
Sarah Palin defines it as whatever comes out of Barack Obama’s mouth.
Let’s talk about the health of this nation and all those who inhabit it–not just the wealthy or those able to afford basic care. 45 million Americans have no health insurance. Over one-third of families living below the poverty line are uninsured. 18,000 citizens die each year–the ultimate sacrifice–due to lack of/inadequate treatment stemming from no health insurance.
For those with health insurance, the picture is not much prettier. Nearly half of all bankruptcies in the United States are caused by high health costs–75% of those bankruptcies are among people with health insurance. The average cost of health care in the US, per person, is nearly $7,000 per year–way more than every other nation on Earth. But are Americans miraculously healthier or longer-living? No! Canada, Cuba, and El Salvador all have higher life expectancies and lower infant mortality rates than the United States–and that’s just naming a few of the countries superior to us in those categories.
Oh, but don’t worry, because thanks to that Medicare Part D that President Bush signed in 2003, the federal government will be dishing out over $800 billion to the prescription drug companies. And this will only give these businesses a 3.6% overhead; those not on Medicare and requiring drugs would help private medical companies siphon off an 11.6% overhead.
Rather than accept this, millions of Americans have been trumpeting a call for universal health coverage–because as a nation, we are a family, and helping the entirety of our family stay healthy isn’t just morally right, it is what this country was founded on. Not everyone agrees with this sentiment, so let’s accept that and delve right into the main reason for detraction: that somehow, a universal health care system makes us on par with the Soviet Union.
Those who cry “socialist” neglect to mention the one government-run program that they rely on every, single day: the United States military. Owned and operated by Uncle Sam, our Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines are the best, most technologically advanced, well-funded, highly-skilled, and expertly trained in the world. They have the ability to defeat any foe on any battlfield in the world at nearly a moment’s notice.
Yet, essentially, why is a program–like the military or health care–run by the government? Because it provides a service that is essential to the safety, security, and health of the entire nation.
Think about it–if national security were only provided to those who had the financial means to purchase it, you’d have a bunch of private security forces guarding only the rich, while the poor were left to defend themselves; you’d have rival factions of forces throughout the country rather than one, unified and mighty guard. Everything about that just sounds completely wrong, doesn’t it?
Many who fear universal government are averse to “big government.” Well let me give you a simple lesson in the Bill of Rights–“big government” is the government trying to tell a woman what she can and cannot do with her body; it is the government supporting an establishment of religion; it is the government denying equality in marriage simply because someone is “different.” Those examples are all topics for a different post, but they help me accentuate my point: universal health care is not “big government.” In the American model of republicanism, it is good government.
We must realize that there is a big difference between “standard of living” and quality of life. Medical costs continue to be one of the biggest expenses of federal and family budgets; from a broader Constitutional perspective, exorbitant bills sometimes rob an individual of “life” and always derail that quintessential “pursuit of happiness.”
Does our current system even make sense? Certainly, the wealthy can afford “better” health care, but does disease recognize that? Does sickness respect differences in wealth? No. A society that only provides adequate medical coverage to the majority and rejects the minority ensures that disease, obesity, and other near-epidemics will always be lurking in the bottom caste of the population–and I think we can do better than that.
When did America give up its Americanism?
Doctors and medical personnel provide us all a service that is arguably as important as our nation’s proud military (health care is, arguably, a pertinent national security issue). Those who doubt our nation’s ability to fund, train, equip, operate, and lead a universal health care system doubt the very sentiments that have established this country–but they aren’t alone. Over 230 years ago, there were many who doubted the founding fathers’ ability to effectively govern, establish this nation and fight for it (indeed, even the Fathers themselves at times).
Who will be the George Washington of health care? John Adams? Thomas Jefferson? We have a mighty and extraordinary nation, but we can make it better–and indeed, we must if we are to endure.
Some will hear “universal health care” and will say there is nothing more socialist. I say, for all time, that there is nothing more American.
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